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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Balasore: After a delay of 11 years, the much awaited Subarnarekha Port at Balasore’s Chaumukh is finally going to see the light of the day as construction is scheduled to commence from January 2020.

Speaking to OTV, the Director of Subarnarekha Port Trust, Ramani Ramaswami said, “95% of the locals are supportive of the project. It’s only a few people that are opposing it. That’s not a problem.”

As per reports, the construction of the proposed port that was announced in 2008 by the Odisha government was put on hold after locals along led by ‘Bhita Mati Suraksha Manch’ launched mass protests opposing the port. The protests were so widespread that Creative Port Development Pvt. Ltd. from Chennai, which was awarded the construction contract, had to leave even before the commencement of work.

The major concern raised by locals was regarding acquisition of land by the government, which they feared would lead to livelihood loss. The locals alleged that if the port gets a go ahead, they would lose their farmland.

Bhuvan Mohan Das, a local alleged that “We will perish if the port is built. We can only survive without our lands only if they provide us jobs in the port, the chances of which are bleak.”

Bhagyadhar Giri, another affected Chaumukh local said, “We will die of hunger if our land is forcibly occupied by the government.”

Sources said the foundation stone of the Rs 4,200-cr project to be built on 692 acre land at Chaumukh was once again laid by the Odisha government in February 2019, just before the General Elections in the state. But the project again ran into legal hurdles as three petitions were filed in the Supreme Court opposing the port, due to which land acquisition for road and rail network was hindered.

However, all the legal cases in court are now reportedly resolved paving way for the construction to begin. The district administration has reportedly assured the Subarnarekha Port Trust of all the necessary land to commence building roads and rail networks for the proposed project.

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